FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE HITS AND MISSES OF BORN OF THE GODS

Greetings, readers! This is the first week of my string of Born of the Gods-related content, starting with my entry into the Hits and Misses series for the set. In the Hits and Misses series, I review the set’s biggest flops and strongest power players, the cards you’ll likely see in EDH, whether they’re key roleplayers for specific strategies or all-around powerhouses.

Before I go any further, though, I’d like to take this moment to gush about the last week I’ve had, which is nothing short of incredible. This will be a fairly long recap, so scroll until you see a picture if you don’t care to hear the story.

So, as usual, I made an appearance at our weekly EDH league at the CG Realm, putting my $2 of credit in and playing my first match. I sit down with my newly-tuned Purphoros, God of the Forge list, and after a shaky opener, I take a free mulligan and draw Grinning Ignus, Krenko, Mob Boss and Siege-Gang Commander. After casting the three in tandem, I draw Krenko’s Command so that activating Krenko kills two of my opponents, and while I was dead to trample damage on the backswing if Emily drew an enabler, she failed to, and the Ignus got there.

Having three tables meant that a fourth player selected by die roll made it into the finals’ table again, and Emily ended up being the one to win the die roll. My opener was again volatile at best, and the mulligan wasn’t much better, though it was perfectly fine if I drew a single land. Of course, I failed to do so until I was staring down a hexproof, trampling Omnath, Locus of Mana, and Emily swung 21 general damage at me exactly, getting her revenge.

So, when the match was over, we walked over to take our prize, and it came down to a pack of M14 vs. Gatecrash. Charlotte ended up picking the M14 pack, banking on a Mutavault, and I opened the Gatecrash pack to see a foil Master Biomancer awaiting inside.

Later on in the week, I was asked to trade evolve a Haunter on Pokemon, so I booted up my 3DS to find that my friend was not in fact online. Thinking he’d be online in time, I decided to do what I usually do; idly farm Ditto (I’m ideally looking to have one of every nature, for breeding purposes). As I look to the silhouette of the Pokemon before me, an Audino appears, but a glint of light appears to its purple tones, and I nod in surprise, throw a Quick Ball, and make short work of the encounter by getting myself a shiny Audino.

After walking to the prerelease and opening my packs, I look at my pool and can’t help but think how terrible it was. For one, my most expensive card I opened was Temple of Mystery, but as per the usual, I tend to open solid commons and uncommons, and this pool was no exception, so I hoped that early game beatdowns with Akroan Skyguard or lategame shenanigans with Forgestoker Dragon equipped with a Gorgon’s Head would get me there.

Six wins and zero losses later, I end up in first place, not even able to process that I’d actually won a prerelease. The last time I placed first at a prerelease event was at the Scars of Mirrodin prerelease nearly 4 years ago. My, how time flies.

So I head home in high spirits, nearly unable to sleep because I was still unable to believe I’d even pulled that off, and I wake up, groggy as hell but still determined to keep playing. Worst came to worst, my winnings from the event would buy me into the rest of the weekend’s events, and I’d still profit.

Going white this time, I again craft a red-white masterpiece of cheap aggro, fliers and aggressive cards that lands me at 4-0-1. Technically, we played it out, and Joel beat me pretty spectacularly (Prophet of Kruphix is a nightmare for any fast aggressive deck), but we’d agreed to split, so in theory I still held an undefeated record for the two big events.

On Sunday, I was extremely tired, having already demolished my sleep schedule and then topping it off by waking up before noon (and if you know me, you know I’m not a morning person.) so I could make it in time for the events. This time, I chose blue as my color, and a timely open of Shipbreaker Kraken helped me ride out to 2-0-1. (In the last round, we played it out again despite deciding to split beforehand, and I played against Phenax, God of Deception and Triton Tactics, getting milled for 36 cards over the course of two turns.)

So, I’d made 3 events technically undefeated, and looked to make it 4. My problem was, despite choosing white for my fourth event, I opened a rather ridiculously deep pool, where I had bombs in blue and green and solidarity in red and white. I went for the bombs, and it cost me my undefeated record, ending at 2-2. (Joel dreamcrushed me triumphantly, sadly.)

Regardless, I had one hell of a ride this season, ending Sunday at 14-2-2. I’d like to extend my thanks to my benefactors, the CG Realm, for hosting an amazing prerelease weekend; it was a truly unforgettable experience, despite the fact that I’m still in the process of repairing my shattered sleep schedule as I write this.

Getting back on-topic, Born of the Gods is Magic’s newest set, the second in the Theros block, and overall, I truly believe this set isn’t very good for us EDH players. I look at a lot of the rares, mythics, and even a few of the uncommons, and all I can see is how great they are for Standard. Tribute, the flagship mechanic of the set, is absolutely awful in EDH, because people will just let you have a massive monster as opposed to whatever nasty business the tribute creatures will do.

Like most Hits and Misses articles, I’m going to get the misses out of the way first. These ten cards, in my opinion, missed their mark, and failed to make an impact on EDH. Of course, that’s just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

#10 – Nessian Demolok

Nessian Demolok

Nessian Demolok is a stark example of why the Tribute mechanic failed in EDH. With all the sweepers going around, nobody is ever going to care about the tribute, making him a 6/6 for 5 that does nothing but attacks once and then dies to Wrath of God.

What makes this card a failure above most of the other Tribute creatures is that it seems to have been designed for EDH (if not Limited), and it seriously pales in comparison to Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler and even Mold Shambler.

#9 – Nessian Wilds Ravager

Nessian Wilds Ravager

Moving onto another disappointment, Nessian Wilds Ravager is a serious letdown at six mana. I feel that once you get to six mana, you should definitely be casting more important things than a 12/12.

What really disappoints me about this thing is its lack of trample. I know it’s already a Limited powerhouse, but at that large of a body, I feel like trample wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch. Really, there are very few Tribute creatures that truly feel pushed enough to be useful because they all cost too much and don’t do much other than be big and attack, which isn’t what you want to be doing in EDH; if you’re playing creatures, they need to have some sort of value. Vanilla fatties are not in short supply, so if you’re thinking about playing this, just play Hamletback Goliath instead.

#8 – Whims of the Fates

Whims of the Fates

I feel like there are decks that can use this, but at the same time, I question why such effects see the light of day. Yes, the effect is cute; yes, you can get lucky and completely blow someone out of the water with this; yes, you can make this work to your advantage no matter what happens.

That being said, this card has an awful best-case / worst-case scenario in almost all situations, and the risk is almost always never worth the reward. It’s a card that makes you think if ever you’re faced against it, but really, cards like this really just don’t do anything but rot in binders or bulk rare boxes, and I just have to ask myself, “Are these cards really necessary? Can’t Design just tack another keyword onto a card and create something actually useful?”

7 – Oracle of Bones

Oracle of Bones

I admit, this card has a lot of potential, but what makes it just annoying to use is how subpar it is no matter how you slice it. If your opponent gives you the counters, you have a 3-toughness body that dies to tokens. If your opponent gives you the spell, they’re stupid; nobody in their right mind would run this if they weren’t planning to cast something along the lines of Enter the Infinite or Primal Surge with it.

I just…have no idea why Tribute wasn’t pushed harder. It had been described in spoiler season as “a mechanic that gives your opponent a choice, but both choices are bad for them no matter how you slice it”. I must say, the choices are indeed bad, but who they’re bad for is an oft-misconstrued idea. Perhaps if they printed a good card that involved a more complex decision, I’d accept the mechanic, but really, it feels clunky at best and downright terrible at worst. There’s a reason Browbeat has so many naysayers.

#6 – Felhide Spiritbinder

Felhide Spiritbinder

Well, I think it’s rather obvious that this thing is not quite Splinter Twin, but really, despite its potential, it shows the pitfall of the Inspired mechanic – having to untap.

Untapping means you’re tapped in the first place, which in certain colors (read: not red), isn’t difficult to do. Aside from that, you’re tapping through attacking, so let’s see. We have a 4 CMC creature with 3 power and 4 toughness. You know what stands at 4 CMC in EDH? Polukranos, World Eater. Anger. Academy Rector. Mindslicer. Don’t get me wrong, the body is efficient enough, but really, too many rattlesnakes exist to make attacking with this thing worth copying whatever the best creature on the board is. For a turn, I might add.

#5 – Archetype of Endurance

Archetype of Endurance

I admit, I have a soft spot for this cycle. At least four of the five effects (Archetype of Finality just seems rather useless, to be honest) are really welcome to both grant your army and strip from your opponent.

Arguably the most necessary of which is hexproof, but really, is 8 mana where we want to be at for this? I understand “lol it’s green, big things lol”, but really, this could have just as easily been a Craw Wurm with that effect and be perfectly fine. This card makes Glaring Spotlight look good, and we all know how that one turned out. Even 7 CMC would have made it a Maelstrom Wanderer cascade trigger. Really, this card just isn’t worth it, imo, which is disappointing, considering how powerful the effect is.

#4 – Chromanticore

Chromanticore

Chromanticore seems like a poster EDH card on the surface. It’s introduced to a Standard format with very little support for five-color (basically Chromatic Lantern and that’s it), and is flashy, bomby, and does a lot in combat.

However, it might be a cute combat body in EDH, but one lingering question remains – why the hell isn’t this legendary? It would literally be the perfect fit as a general, being a legendary bestow creature that makes a creature absolutely ridiculous in combat (basically slap it on any deathtouch creature and go to town), and because Bestow is an alternate cost, it would never cost anymore than 7 mana to cast from the command zone. I don’t know, I think making a creature the god of combat is worth 7 mana, personally. Perhaps I’m biased in being jaded here, but I really felt this would have easily been the EDH card of the set if it were legendary.

#3 – Phenax, God of Deception

Phenax, God of Deception

It’s no secret I personally am not a fan of this effect. Few players like playing it, fewer still like playing against it. Why it still manages to take up the slot of a central character really befuddles me.

However, I’m not going to deny that Phenax is probably the best thing they’ve ever printed for the archetype. It’s very easy to build around, has a few hilarious power players, and is extremely difficult to remove.

Regardless, I have a personal vendetta against this mechanic, and I place Phenax here solely based on what could have been. Something tempo-based or an effect that generates card advantage would have been a superior grab, but here I am, disappointed and annoyed that this mechanic still exists when it’s nothing more than a cheesy Limited strategy.

#2 – Mogis, God of Slaughter

Mogis, God of Slaughter

Mogis, on the other hand, disappoints in an entirely different way. I understand the card is designed to be a Standard card. The question is, why? Unless Pharika ends up being a midrange monster, I can’t see midrange Jund being a deck, much less midrange R/B. There are decent enough creatures, but you already have things like Flame-Wreathed Phoenix and Desecration Demon in that slot, and red is entirely unnecessary because you can be playing Whip or Erebos instead.

In EDH, Mogis is next to useless; opponents will always just take the two damage every time, which is entirely too slow to be able to sit back on rattlesnakes like Ophiomancer and No Mercy and get there. 7/5 is a phenomenal body in combat, requiring 3 swings to kill someone and only costing 4 mana, and being devoted enough to Mogis isn’t difficult, either, but once Mogis becomes a creature, he becomes much more vulnerable to a hearth of removal, such as Terminus, Spin into Myth and Grave Pact. Overall, I just feel like they pushed the wrong god for Standard, and should have kept this color combination’s legend an EDH powerhouse.

#1 – Ephara, God of the Polis

Ephara, God of the Polis

Yes, I’ve just put three gods in a row as the top three disappointing EDH cards of Born of the Gods. Honestly, for a block that seems ripe with viable EDH designs, this set really has designed them awkwardly.

Granted, Ephara does something relatively unique in that she incentivizes building creature-heavy in blue and white, but that’s really her most unfortunate setback; you’re playing a blue-white creature deck. What’s blue and white really good at? Right, destroying creatures. It only has Supreme Verdict, the best way of doing so in the format, right?

Overall, I feel like Ephara was really a letdown in an already tired color combination with enough powerful generals that she will be entirely ignored for better options, and that to me is the surest sign that Ephara’s place isn’t in EDH.

Now that we’ve covered the cards I feel missed their mark for the format, we move on to the ten best cards in the set for the format. Whereas I feel the set isn’t very geared towards EDH, more geared towards Standard with its spread of rares and mythics, I feel there are still a number of power players for EDH that this set has provided us. Let’s get right into it:

#10 – Archetype of Imagination

Archetype of Imagination

Archetype of Imagination is a little weak on paper, being a 3/2 flying body for a whopping 6 mana. What makes the Archetype a more attractive option than competitors like Akroma’s Memorial and Homura, Human Ascendant is that it, like the rest of the cycle, strip the ability from your opponents as well, meaning that unless your opponent has reach creatures, they’re going to be in for a world of hurt.

Speaking of reach creatures, the pound-for-pound best reach creature of the format, Sylvan Primordial, just got the banhammer with the format changes, so it enters the format a rather dark horse, and I hope to make use of it in the coming months.

#9 – Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spirit of the Labyrinth

Believe it or not, this little enchantment creature can actually put in some decent work not only against Brainstorm and Jace the Mind Sculptor, but against Rhystic Study and Consecrated Sphinx as well.

It’s cheap enough mana-wise that it appears before most of the big draw spells of the format, but as far as hatebears go, Spirit gets a nod not only because it literally screws certain strategies completely (Take that, Edric, Spymaster of Trest!), but it also has 3 power as opposed to 2, which surprisingly enough, matters when you’re getting fast beats in against control. It does what it does very well, and I’d be surprised if I didn’t see it at least once in EDH against even things such as Skullclamp or Garruk, Primal Hunter.

#8 – Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

Honestly, I’m not sure where to put Kiora, because I can’t accurately determine just how powerful she actually is, but for now I want to say she’s a hit. Generally, Planeswalkers that draw cards are usually never terrible, so I want to speculate that just based on that point alone, Kiora earns her spot; really, though, she’s difficult to properly evaluate.

To be perfectly honest, her ultimate is rather unattractive, and shouldn’t be the reason why you run her. Certainly, it’s nice to have an unstoppable army of 9/9′s, but realistically, people will attack Kiora before you’re allowed that luxury, and while green and blue have the creatures best suited to protect her, it can be difficult to keep aggro at bay despite her +1.

I like her a lot; I’m going to test her in Maelstrom Wanderer and see how she functions, but really, she has a lot of flexibility if she’s not just a 4-mana Explore.

(Also, obligatory #2explores joke)

#7 – Eidolon of Countless Battles

Eidolon of Countless Battles

This little critter is deceptively one of the best Auras when it comes to sheer numbers. For four mana, you’re getting a rather large amount of power for the decks this will inevitably go in. (Uril, the Miststalker admittedly makes far better use of this than Bruna, Light of Alabaster, since the latter can’t really recur it, and the former can just run mana dorks.)

That being said, Eidolon also has the versatility and adaptability of the Bestow mechanic going for it. It’s likely one of the best bestow creatures, right up there with Nighthowler, and can threaten some serious damage if you’re not careful. Underestimate it at your peril. (And don’t forget to keep count of how much power it actually has!)

#6 – Brimaz, King of Oreskos

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

It’s not really that much of a surprise that a creature with as much value as Brimaz winds up on this list; despite being a Standard powerhouse easily comparable to the likes of Hero of Bladehold, Brimaz’s EDH presence lies in one specific, scary niche; 1v1.

Honestly, I feel like Brimaz can be a contender for 1v1 with mono-white. He may not come down on the first turn like Isamaru, Hound of Konda or disrupt the hell out of control like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, but Brimaz threatens a lot of damage, and is incredibly difficult not only to race but also to beat in combat until around turn 5, and even then, that’s not guaranteed. In general, this is one tough kitty to beat, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he’ll make splashes in the more competitive field of 1v1.

#5 – Whelming Wave

Whelming Wave

Usually, any form of sweeper, whether it destroys or just bounces like Whelming Wave does, is a hit in EDH, and this is no different. Whelming Wave is a great addition to the format; a 4-mana Evacuation that, while it loses instant speed, gains a unique niche in leaving a select few of blue’s finishers, such as Inkwell Leviathan, on the board to wreak havoc.

Overall, the format has very few resets in blue as far as strictly creatures are concerned, and while Cyclonic Rift sees near-universal play in most blue-based strategies, aside from that, Evacuation and Devastation Tide only see fringe play here and there, and I think this is better than at least the latter.

#4 – Fated Retribution

Fated Retribution

Speaking of sweepers being good in EDH, here’s an instant-speed one! It also happens to destroy Planeswalkers, which run rampant through Standard at the moment, between Jace, Architect of Thought and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Overall, a welcome addition to both Standard and EDH.

Obviously, there’s the bonus of scrying during your turn, but really, the mechanic is not a strong enough incentive to just catch an overextending opponent with their pants down. Overall, I think this will replace Rout for a lot of people, and I think it’s got a lot of potential.

#3 – Champion of Stray Souls

Champion of Stray Souls

Champion of Stray Souls is by far one of the best cards for the reanimator archetype printed in a very long time. Being able to Living Death yourself on a whim is incredibly powerful, and works as both a sac outlet and a reanimator spell, and works fantastic with things like Ashen Rider and Sheoldred, Whispering One.

On top of that, barring an exile effect, he’s rather difficult to take care of permanently, as he can always just recur himself through graveyard hate. Because of that, he’s also quite resilient, making him that much more useful in my eyes just for that.

#2 – Karametra, God of Harvests

Karametra, God of Harvests

Karametra is the only one of the five gods I consider truly fit for the format. Xenagos is too much of a gray area (no matter how powerful you make the creature, it still loses to Wrath of God or Academy Rector), and the other three have been covered as misses, but Karametra is the real deal for EDH.

First of all, she’s a sizeable body on her own, in colors where devotion is very easy to make work with all of the color combination’s various enchantments. Second of all, she has a factor that makes her very interesting – her synergy with niche cards. Casting her turn 3-5 and then casting Stonecloaker or Whitemane Lion the turn after just seems like pure value to me. Obviously, there’s a few spell slots you have to dedicate to her, but the fact that she can search Mistveil Plains, Savannah and Temple Garden on its own just makes her very powerful. The more creatures you cast, the more value you get from your draws.

The problem I have with her is that you wanting to be casting bombs alongside her, and Avacyn, Angel of Hope aside, doing that just overextends you into Wrath of God. At the same time, there’s actually quite a bit of potential for a Primal Surge shell with Akroma’s Memorial here, and believe it or not, Karametra is one of the best generals in green to make use of Abundance, as you can just name nonland every time and assure yourself you’ll have a creature to cast.

#1 – Fated Return

Fated Return

I made this list thinking about what might see the most widespread play. On the surface, Fated Return looks like another reanimator trick. What most people don’t realize is that rather than focus on making your graveyard good, people should focus on it just being a spell with insane amounts of value.

Overall, I don’t see how many black decks will be able to resist this card. It’s practically black’s Bribery, and it gives the creature the bonus of being indestructible. On top of that, it’s instant-speed, meaning any other sort of graveyard shenanigans can get blown out simply by responding to it with this. How is that not just the nuts?

I think this card has a ton of potential to become one of black’s premier spells over the next few years, and just in black, you can recur things such as Grave Titan and Sheoldred, Whispering One, and giving those two indestructible is just a pain for the entire table.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

And there you have it, my picks for the top 10 hits and misses for EDH from Born of the Gods! Next week is likely going to be my Let’s Build article for this month, but I’m not sure if I want to focus on a Born of the Gods general or use one of my own personal lists. We’ll see! Until then!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710 
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *